Suppose for a moment that your top business producers began retiring, what would be the impact on your firm? Would your firm keep their clients or lose them?

If these kind of thoughts keep your law firm leaders up at night, think about what you would do to develop the next generation of rainmakers.

Your associates and junior partners will not develop their client development skills by a crash course and certainly will not develop those skills by listening to a lecture. You have likely heard this famous Chinese saying:

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand…Confucius

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I know from my own experience teaching lawyers that if you prepare these six interactive learning sessions in 2016, you will get positive results. If you add one-on-one coaching sessions, you might just develop your next generation of rainmakers :

  1. Introduction and Business Plan Training Session. The introduction should include how clients select and hire lawyers. Have your lawyers create a list of sources of business and referrals, client development tools and ideas on becoming more visible and credible. Then have each participant prepare a business plan with goals and activities.
  2. Mock Networking Event. Create your own mock networking event. It might be a function at your firm’s offices. Have participants prepare for this session by doing their own research and creating 10 networking questions. Have them also create an elevator speech to use when they are asked what they do. Ask willing partners to volunteer to play the role of potential clients and referral sources and give them a persona. It will be even more helpful if some partner spouses play roles as spouses. After the mock networking event, give feedback to participants.
  3. Writing Articles and Blog Posts. Ask your participants to give the leader in advance something they have written that they believe would make a great article or blog post.  Ask participants to create a title, an opening paragraph and a closing paragraph. During the session, ask for volunteers to go over what they have written and then have the group offer suggestions to them how to change it with the mind of building a reputation and getting hired.
  4. Presentation skills.  In advance have group members imagine they have been asked to speak on a legal topic at an industry conference. In advance of the session they should prepare the first 1-3 minutes, the last 1-3 minutes and slides to go with the opening and closing. At the session have participants give their opening and closing and then offer feedback.
  5. Mock Client Pitch. Create a fictitious client based on the type of clients the firm represents. Create a fictitious client webpage, current events and facts that lead the client to hiring a law firm. Then divide the participants into teams and assign team leaders. Give the participants the client information. Ask partners to play the role of client representatives. If possible video tape the teams doing the client pitches. Have the volunteer partners offer feedback.
  6. Client Service and Cross-Selling. Create scenarios for starting a new assignment for a new client and scenarios for follow up after an assignment.  Divide participants into teams and have the teams present their ideas on what clients want and what causes them to change lawyers or law firms. Have each team create a client service plan and a cross-selling plan.

Have you been building your next generation of rainmakers? If not, why not start in 2016?